Drovers dominant

By Jamie Lowe

The Deni Drovers were a force to be reckoned with on Saturday, dominating an undermanned Wagga Ag College side in a 76-0 thumping at Rotary Park.

The Southern Inland Rugby Union McMullen Cup round 15 clash was played completely on the Drovers' terms, with a large crowd cheering the home side on.

It took only one minute for the Drovers to hit the scoreboard, with Brennan Hall charging down the field to put his side deep in attack, with Deni scoring after a scrum soon after for Staci Richardson's first try of the game.

All the play was in the Drovers' attacking half with Richardson adding another and Dylan Osborne managing three first half tries on their way to a 47-0 half time buffer.

The dominance continued in the second half, with Deni sharing the scoring around.

Con Thalasinos finished with two tries, while Zack Thompson, Brennen Hall, Tjunda Keefe, Kayde Richardson and Hugh Sutton all scoring one each.

Ross Gardner had a good day with the boot, converting eight out of 12 tries.

Drovers coach Mark Thompson said that even though a blowout isn't ideal preparation for the toughness of finals rugby, there were plenty of positive signs.

"Even though we scored a lot of points and there wasn't as much pressure, we still showed improvements that we needed to show," he said.

"Previously a lot of players would've tried to take it on all by themselves, but there were a fair few chains that linked up for some good plays.

"We fine tuned a few things structurally that we've been working on.

"One thing in particular that was pleasing was when the opposition kicked the ball we charged back at them with a perfect line set-up."

The Drovers' focus will move on to reigning premier Wagga Waratahs, who they face in the final round of the season at Wagga tomorrow.

The clash will be a precursor for the first round of finals, with the Drovers and Waratahs guaranteed to meet in an elimination final the following week.

The Drovers will have extra incentive for a win heading into the game, with hooker Tjunda Keefe set to play his 50th game.

"He's (Keefe) a top clubman and the sort of player that once he's on the field, people follow him," Thompson said.

"The boys just love having him out there. He carries a fair bit of responsibility as a 22 year-old, and is normally our line-out caller.

"We're so glad he decided to keep playing this season, as he's one of our most important players.

"Hopefully we can get a win for him."

The last time these sides met it was the Drovers who were in devastating form, crushing the Waratahs by 68 points.

"They'll have a different line-up on their home deck so we expect a much tougher game," Thompson said.

"It'll be a good tune-up for the finals, so hopefully we can work out the best way to come up against them for the following week.

"We should have Chris Te Poka back in the side but there shouldn't be too much change to our line-up."